Who Do You Think You Are?

John Barnes

Series 9 - Episode 9 John Barnes



“This would make a very interesting political thriller,” says footballer John Barnes as he learns of his grandfather’s activism in pre-independence Jamaica. Yes, and that might bring the tale to life rather better than Barnes reading from old newspapers with local historians.

It’s a surprise to Barnes, who took after his sporting father, that his mother’s family are where the heroes lie – in particular, her father, who had an extraordinary career as a radical journalist and campaigner against British rule, imprisoned without trial in 1942 by a jumpy colonial governor. And the tale takes more unexpected turns from there.


Former footballer John Barnes explores the role his grandfather played in Jamaica's fight for independence from Britain. He discovers how his relative became the subject of secret telegrams, why he was interned by the British during the Second World War and how, having been at the heart of Jamaican politics, he fell from grace among his former allies.

Cast & Crew

Contributor John Barnes
Director Russell England
Series Producer Colette Flight